The 'Exceptive Clause' -

         AN "EXPLANATION": AND THE REAL FACTS

 

The greatest argument in favour of the 'exceptive clause' contained in Matt.5/32 and 19/9 is that we only have to open up our Bibles at these two passages in order to read it. The onus is upon those who wish to "explain away" the permission to divorce and re-marry given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Some, in an endeavour to do this, have given alternative renderings as follows:

 

Matt.5/32 A.V. - "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery"

Matt.5/32 New Translation - "whosoever shall put away his wife, besides the inward motive of lust, causeth her to commit adultery"

 

Matt.19/9 A.V. - "Whosoever shall put away  his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery"

Matt.19/9 New Translation - "Whosoever shall put away his wife, if not with a view to lust, and shall marry another, committeth adultery"

 

   It is obvious that the new translations, if correct, show the scholars who were associated with 

   the rendering in English of the Greek text to have been utterly remiss and incompetent*.

      (*added note 2017 - we have in front of us 24 translations, all agreeing with the A.V.)

   Not only so, if the new translations prove to be correct, then the 'exceptive clause'

   disappears* (*added note 2017 - which of course is the aim of the authors) - for the words of

   Jesus, instead of granting a lawful reason for divorce and re-marriage, are claimed to be a

   commentary upon the motive of the one who seeks a divorce. Therefore we must critically

   examine the reasons given for altering the standard renderings.

 

   Matt.5/32. The Greek text which is translated in the A.V. by "saving for the cause of

   fornication" reads "parektos logou porneias". We examine each word in order. "Parektos"

   appears only 3 times in the N.T. and is translated "saving" in this verse, "except" in Acts

   26/29, and "without" in 2nd Corinth.11/28^.The new translation requires that it should mean

    "besides" in the sense of "in addition to", and the addition is linked to v.27-30, where lust is

    spoken of. Now in none of the above 3 occurrences do we find substantiation of this* (*cf. 1st  

   Corinthians 2/13). Leaving the verse in dispute, in Acts 26/29 we read that Paul wished all

   to be as he "except these bonds". To substitute "besides" (as meaning "in addition to") is

   obviously wrong#. The bonds were an exception to Paul's overall wish, not an addition.

   In 2nd Corinth. 11/28, where "parektos" is translated "without" in the A.V. we see quite

   plainly the essential meaning of the word. In fact, the word receives its meaning from "ektos",

    an adverb, which in turn is derived from "ek", meaning "out of", from which also we get

   "ecclesia", 'an assembly of called out ones'-those who are exceptions to the general rule.

 

   "Ektos" is given in Parkhurt's Greek Lexicon as "Without as opposed to within". Liddell &

   Scott's Greek Lexicon gives as "without, outside, opposite to 'entos', inside". We must,

   therefore, conclude that the essential idea of "parektos" is faithfully conveyed in the 3

   passages quoted, i.e. "saving", "except", "without". It shows an exception. Moulton &

   Milligan's 'Vocabulary of the Greek Testament' includes examples of concurrent papyri usage

   which endorse N.T. usage as shown above>. Next, we look at the word "logou", a form of

   "logos". This word and its declensions appear some 331 times in the N.T., and never once does

   it carry the meaning of "inward motive" only as required by the new translation*. (*cf. 1st

   Corinthians 2/13).  Bullinger's Greek Lexicon renders-"the (spoken) word; a word as forming

   part of what is spoken; a word as that which is spoken, whether doctrine, prophecy, question,

   saying, command, teaching, rumour, argument, charge or accusation; then, the reason, as

   demanded or assigned, i.e. reckoning, account". Bearing in mind that in the previous verse 31

   Jesus has drawn attention to the "reason" which was "assigned" by way of "a writing of

   divorcement" under Moses, we believe it to be self-evident that He is now drawing attention

    to the only "reason" which may be "assigned" under His new law. But here we must briefly

                                           (continued on page 2 of the original text below)

 

    (^added note 2017 - the Greek word translated in this verse as 'beside' is not "parektos",

       and the Divinely inspired Paul did not make the same mistake as these armchair critics!)

    (#added note 2017 - if those who oppose the obvious meaning of "parektos" had taken the

       time to look at Strong's derivations, they would have seen that he used "besides" in the

       way he himself defines, i.e. "near outside", the root words "ektos" signifying "aside from"

       and "para" signifying "beyond or opposed to" - and see our own comments on "ektos"….

       an example of the only way "beside(s)" could be applicable here is to be "beside oneself",

       i.e. 'out of one's wits', 'at one's wits' end' - a situation which is an exception to normality...

       with all of these facts firmly in view, the verse as rendered in 24 plus versions is vindicated)

     (>added note 2017 - on page 492 they show its meaning as "apart from", "except", and give

          an example of contemporary usage as "apart from the persons written above")

 

                                                                               2

   examine a passage put forward as supporting the idea that "inward motive" is, nevertheless,

   in spite of the great weight of evidence against it, correct. This is John 1/1 - "In the beginning

   was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God".The first question we must

   ask is, what time has John in mind when he writes "In the beginning"? There can be only one

   answer - Genesis 1/1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". The Creation

   was accomplished by the spoken word - "And God said, let there be light: and there was light".

   Cf. Psalm 103/20-22 and Psalm 33/6-9. John further says "the word was with God", and the 

   word "with" is from the Greek "pros", which, when used in connection with the accusative (as

   here) denotes "towards", i.e. the word pointed to God as the Creator. John continues, "the

   Word was God". Because no definite article is used here before "God", we are being told that

   the "word" was but one attribute of God. See Green's 'Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek

   Testament', p.206. Thus the word manifested God to those who heard it. Sufficient proof we

   feel has been given that even in this case "logos" means "the spoken word".

 

   We now look at "porneias", a form of "porneia", which is defined in Strong's Concordance as

   "harlotry (incl. adultery and incest)".The word is derived from the verb "porneuo", meaning

   "to act the harlot, i.e. (lit.) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex)"…(translated) - "commit

   (fornication)". Thus the essential idea is that of action, whether as a verb or a noun#. And so

   the rendering in the new translation of "lust" is obviously wrong. Note that it is not possible to

   evade the force of this argument by agreeing to the above, for the whole structure of the new

   translation depends upon Jesus drawing attention to the "lust" of v.28. There, however, a

   different word is used - "epithumeo", meaning "to set the heart upon". The comments of Jesus

   in v.32 have nothing atall to do with His comments in v.28-30. This is evident, because Jesus is

   commenting upon two entirely different legislations under Moses (v.27 refers to Exodus 20/14

   and v.31 refers to Deuteronomy 24/1). They are divided by the formula (common in this ch.)

   "It hath been said...But I say unto you". In no other section in ch.5 does the thought of the 

   previous one carry over. All are separate in themselves. Should this one be any different? One

   final thought upon Matt. 5/32. If we were to accept the new translation, we would also have

   to accept the fact that every single person who put away his wife did so for "the inward

   motive of lust", for (by this version) "whosoever shall put away his wife, besides the inward

   motive of lust, causeth her to commit adultery"*. This in itself proves the new translation to

   be wrong. (*The new translation of Matt. 19/9 as well as the A.V. and all other versions

   contradict such a hypothesis, for in that place other reasons are highlighted!)    

   (added note 2017 - the new translation renders wrongly "if not with a view to lust", but still

   allows for other reasons, inconsistent with the new translation of Matt. 5/32….the A.V. and

   other versions correctly render "except it be for fornication" and similar, also demonstrating

   conclusively that the "new translation" of Matt. 5/32 is entirely misleading and utterly wrong)

   # also link to 'objections answered' for a fuller consideration of this word.

 

   Matt.19/9. The Greek text which is translated in the A.V. by "except it be for fornication" reads

   "ei me epi porneia" in general. Some MSS omit "ei", but this has no bearing upon the matter.

   We examine firstly the words "ei me",translated "except". The new translation gives this as "if  

   not", and this is acceptable, as per Strong's Concordance. However, the new translation tries

   to use this acceptable meaning of "ei me" in a completely wrong way! The argument requires

   that Jesus is here completing an exposure of man's motives which He began in ch.5. We first

   note that Jesus is talking to "the Pharisees" (cf.v.3,7,8) whereas in ch.5 He was talking to "his

   disciples" (cf.ch.5/1,2) - therefore it would be hardly appropriate to finish a train of thought

   which He began to different people! (added note 2017 - how could this teach anyone hearing

   Him all that the new translation is trying to show?). The reason the new translators take their

   illogical line of reasoning is because it is claimed that earlier in ch.5/32 Jesus refers to 'lust",

   whereas here He refers to any other reason. Therefore He covers (so they claim) in the two

   passages, all the reasons why a man would want a divorce - and all result in adultery. We now

   want to make one very important point. "If" divorce is "not" for "fornication" then re-marriage

   results in adultery. But what "if" divorce is for "fornication"? It is obvious that in such a case

   re-marriage does not result in adultery! But the propounders of the new translation deny this

   by referring us to the new translation of ch.5/32 as "proof", which is then used to bolster up

   a wrong translation in this verse! We have already shown that the new translation of ch.5/32

   is wrong and unsupportable in any way. Therefore Jesus cannot have it in mind in ch.19/9.

 

                                                                                3

   Why then does Jesus say "except" or "if not"? The reason is obvious. In the previous verses

   7 & 8, a particular verse in the O.T., Deuteronomy 24/1, is in view - the same verse with which

   Jesus draws a contrast in ch.5/31,32. This verse had relation to a "hardness of heart" statute

   under the law, whereby if a man "found some uncleanness" (lit. "matter of nakedness") in his

   wife, he was permitted to divorce her.The phrase in the Hebrew is "ervah davar", and it occurs

   in only one other place in the O.T., namely Deuteronomy 23/14, where the meaning is obvious

   (cf.v.13). It has nothing to do with "fornication", for which an entirely different Hebrew word

   "zanah" (with its derivatives) is used throughout the O.T. Jesus knew that Deut.24/1 (which

   had been raised by the Pharisees) dealt with matters of physical blemish, not "fornication". He

   shows (v.8) that the Mosaic provision was but temporary, and was not according to God's

   intention "from the beginning". He continues (v.9) - "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put

   away his wife, except (or "if not") for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth

   adultery". The contrast is plain. Here we have the powerful meaning of "ei me", which is

   entirely lost by the incorrect teaching promoted in the new translation of v.9. The phrase "ei

   me" shows there is an exception, as proven by its use in Matt. 24/22, John 19/11, Romans

   7/7; 9/29 etc. This shows conclusively the inconsistency of the new translation.

 

   The next word to consider is "epi",rendered "for" in the A.V. Proponents of the new translation

   would have us read this as "with a view to", which they claim to be the meaning in cases such

   as this when governing the dative. However, when we look at the facts, we find that "epi"  

   occurs some 840 times in the N.T., with the dative some 97 times, and these will be found to

   disprove the above false assumption. One example, also with the dative, will suffice - Mark 3/5

   - "And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of

   their hearts…." - the meaning is obviously not "with a view to" but "because of", exactly the

   same meaning as in Matt. 19/9. It is very sad that the same  "hardness", exhibited in both of

   these verses,is alive and well in those who propound absolute indissolubility today. The Roman

   harlot has done her evil work effectively for her purpose (see 'objections answered' & also

   'departure' - page 1). Finally, when we consult Bullinger's Greek Lexicon, we find that "epi", to

   carry the meaning of "with a view to", must be used, not with the dative, but with the  

   accusative - an example being Luke 7/44. But this is not the case in Matt. 19/9. The last word

   "porneia" we have already dealt with in our comments on ch.5/32…we have found that it does

   not mean "lust", as propounded by the new translation, but sexual unchastity, with a great

   latitude of meaning, as set out above. We may add extra comments on this page later.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                 return to objections answered   

                                         return to studies      return to home page-index

                                                                                                                       

We have been asked recently by a correspondent to explain a thesis written by some who believe in the Catholic heresy of absolute indissolubility of marriage. And although it is now November 2017, old errors persist, and it was no real surprise to find that we had refuted this same faulty reasoning back in 1973. So rather than go over again the same ground, we provided our enquirer with a copy of the original article which we wrote in refutation of this pernicious error. We are now making the original typewritten article available to a much wider audience. It will be found useful for any truth-seeker who might be troubled by the same specious and discredited reasoning. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" - Isaiah 8v20.